A distinguished group of women at Washington State University have been honored with Women of Distinction and Woman of the Year awards. The awards are presented annually during National Women’s History month and recognize women’s achievements to the WSU community and beyond.

Award recipients include a student, a faculty member, and two staff members. They were recognized during the Women of Distinction event, which was held on March 9 on the WSU Pullman campus.

Closeup of Sheryl DeShields
Sheryl DeShields

Sheryl DeShields | Woman of the Year

Sheryl DeShields is the senior secretary for the Department of Psychology. According to a nominator, DeShields is an integral member of the department who assists with administrative tasks while also serving as a morale booster and support system for everyone she encounters. She makes time to celebrate the achievements and birthdays of all students, staff, and faculty and makes it a priority to check on students and to support them in any way possible. DeShields has also helped multiple students apply for graduate school and faculty positions, teach their courses, and seek resources for academic success. A nominator said she has been an indisputable asset to the department and its members and is considered the foundation of the department.

Closeup of Anika VanDeen
Anika VanDeen

Anika VanDeen | Student Woman of Distinction

VanDeen is pursuing her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at WSU Pullman. She has been awarded the GAANN Fellowship and a Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture scholarship for her academic achievements. VanDeen has also served on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women since 2016, working her way up to become the co-chair for the Mentoring and Professional Development subcommittee. She also serves as a senator at large for WSU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association. Last year, she designed and 3D-printed keychains to help fundraise for Materials Advantage, a registered student organization, donating her time and materials to further the club’s mission. For the past two summers, she has volunteered at the Palouse Discovery Science Center teaching children about 3D printing. A nominator said that VanDeen’s impact on WSU and the surrounding community is one to be recognized, both in her role as a dedicated leader and volunteer, and as a Ph.D. student.

Closeup of Anika VanDeen
Anika VanDeen

Robin Stratton | Staff Woman of Distinction

Robin Stratton is the administrative manager for the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Her role includes the responsibilities of a fiscal manager, academic manager, and administrative manager. She also assumed personnel administration of the College of Arts and Sciences Technical Services at the request of the Dean’s Office, including representing management in the WSU/WFSE contract negotiations. Stratton played an integral role in planning the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s 100th Anniversary Celebration and was a major contributor to the success of the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which hosted more than 140 undergraduate students at WSU Pullman in January. Stratton’s nominator states, “My number one value as a teacher, a researcher, and an administrator at this and at any academic institution is ‘students come first.’ I rely on Robin precisely because it was apparent to me early on that she shares that value.”

Closeup of Kelly Brayton
Kelly Brayton

Kelly Brayton | Faculty Woman of Distinction

Kelly Brayton is a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. Brayton currently serves as the interim chair of the department, while focusing on her research into tick-borne infectious diseases of animals and humans, with an emphasis on genomics, transmission, persistence, and vaccine discovery. She is a pioneer in this research field, completing the first genome of an important tick-borne pathogen and going on to complete several more.

Brayton’s dedication to the personal growth of others is shown through her role as the President of the American Society for Rickettsiology, where she addresses the imbalance of women in STEM careers. This mentorship ideology has carried over to her work at WSU, where she serves as the departmental liaison for the ADVANCE program, dedicated to mentoring junior faculty and faculty women. Brayton has mentored more than 130 individuals at WSU and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.